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US stocks fall after the Fed hikes rates and bank contagion spreads

Traders NYSETraders works on the trading floor at the New York Stock Exchange (NYSE) in New York City, U.S., March 5, 2020.

Andrew Kelly/Reuters

  • US stocks dropped Thursday, a day after the Fed delivered a 10th consecutive interest rate hike. 
  • Fears of further bank stress also emerged on reports that PacWest is weighing strategic options.   
  • Jerome Powell on Wednesday softened some language but did not point to rate cuts on the horizon.  

US stocks dropped on Thursday a day after the Federal Reserve delivered its 10th consecutive interest rate hike and as fears of bank contagion continue to swirl. 

The Fed raised rates by 25 basis-points to move the key level above 5% for the first time in 16 years, and while Jerome Powell softened some of the language around further policy, he maintained that it could still be too early to reverse course.

“We on the committee have a view that inflation is going to come down not so quickly,” he said Wednesday in a press conference. “It will take some time, and in that world, if that forecast is broadly right, it would not be appropriate to cut rates and we won’t cut rates.”

The European Central Bank also raised interest rates by 25 basis-points, with EU policymakers pointing to still-high inflation as reason for tightening. The bank’s benchmark rate will move to 3.25% as of May 10. 

Meanwhile, banking fears are top of mind for investors once again, just days after the sale of First Republic to JPMorgan. After hours on Wednesday, shares of PacWest plunged more than 40% and continued to slide on Thursday on reports the bank is weighing options, including a sale

Initial jobless claims rose in the last week and came in higher than expected, at 242,000 compared to estimates of 240,000. On Friday, markets will get a better read on the strength of the labor market with the April nonfarm payrolls report will release. Economists expect US employers to have added 180,000 jobs last month, down from the 236,000 added in March. 

Here’s where US indexes stood shortly after the 9:30 a.m. opening bell on Thursday: 

Here’s what else is going on: 

In commodities, bonds, and crypto: 

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